Keep moving to prevent disability – latest study concludes “move more, more often”

physical inactivity, physical activity, frailty, move more more often, arthritis digest, arthritis researchPhysically inactivity is the strongest risk factor for disability as we age says new research in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

We know that exercise has proven health benefits, especially moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

But the benefits of lighter forms of physical activity or the effects of spreading our physical activity throughout the day have been investigated less. It’s important as these types of physical activity may be easier for some people, those who are frail for example.

That’s why a team of researchers created a study to examine the effects of performing light physical activity and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity on adults aged 70–89 years who exercised for less than 20 minutes a week and could walk 400 metres in less than 15 minutes.

The volunteers were split into groups: 818 were put in an exercise group and 507 in a group that received health education with no exercise.

The focus of the exercise programme was aerobic activity (exercises that increase your breathing and heart rate), specifically walking. Participants had a goal of completing 150 weekly minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise along with brief balance, flexibility, and lower-body strengthening exercises. They aimed to exercise five to six days a week, including two weekly sessions in a centre.

Key findings

By the sixth month of the study, the participants in the exercise group performed an additional 40 minutes a week of moderate to vigorous exercise. One and two years later they were still doing a good amount of exercise.

  • The intensity of physical activity, as well as the way that physical activity is spread throughout the day, should be matched to each individual’s physical health;
  • Frail people should focus on building strength and balance to begin with;
  • As strength and balance develop, people should look to increase the amount of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity they do each day.
  • Then it becomes possible to increase the amount of light activity people do each day and spread this across the full day.

The researchers conclude that a “move more, more often” recommendation is a good starting place for older adults who want to maintain physical functioning and an independent lifestyle.

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